Augustine, a Piece of Paris in Financial District

augustine at the beekman hotel

It used to be the case that the reasons you found yourself in the Financial District were that a) you worked at Goldman Sachs or b) you had newly moved to an apartment in the area and didn’t know any better. Now, however, the Financial District has evolved considerably beyond being an abandoned lot occupied by 20-something analysts living in converted office buildings. There are fast-casual restaurants open past the hours of 6 pm, the splashy shopping center Brookfield Place is nearby, and the luxury Beekman Hotel recently opened to validate the Financial District’s improving status in the world.Read More

Le Coucou Late Night


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There are few restaurants that I would stay up so late for. A 9 pm seating is my limit, and after that, I’ll move on and revisit once the hype has died down. But like the desperate girl who can’t play it cool when she’s finally invited to a party, I caved to the pressure and made an exception for a 10:30 reservation at Le Coucou. There was a little thought behind this, though. First of all, Ruoxi’s birthday was at midnight, so we would need to do some sort of big, late night blowout celebration anyway. Also, my friend Eugenia from Hong Kong was in town, and she was already going to be jet lagged, so why not shake it off by staying up as late as possible? All good reasons for me to bite the bullet on a super late dinner reservation.Read More

French Women Don’t get Fat at MIMI

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It’s widely known that French women don’t get fat, even though they eat lots of carbs and butter. I know this because there was a very popular book by the same name that said so, and the general perception seems to be that Parisiens are so much better at life than we Americans are. French women live to eat and enjoy the meal in front of them, unlike the American women who eat salads at their desks and get sad about eating a cookie.Read More

Maman Tribeca Brunch

Maman in Soho is an Instagrammer’s dream, which is why it’s packed with stylish, pretty little things with nice manicures and handbags drinking lattes and quiches off of exquisite china. Charming French cafes with croissants and avocado toasts is a pretty winning formula, and not surprisingly, the Maman team has opened a second location in Tribeca, knowing that they will appeal to those fancy yoga moms and their well-heeled kids.

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maman’s lovely rustic french table settings
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the bar doing brisk business

If Maman Soho is where all the young people are, Maman Tribeca is where the young people with families graduate onto. You’ll see former bros sporting baby bjorns with their well coiffed wives by their side. It’s much roomier, which makes it better for pushing through multiple strollers and seating actual large groups of families. They are so accommodating to babies, in fact, that should your stroller not fit through their entrance, they have a side elevator that can. Families need more food and service, and so the Tribeca branch builds upon the light menu and counter service of the Soho location with a proper full-service, fully staffed restaurant.

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pastry basket for two (more like one)

No meal at Maman is complete without its famous chocolate chip cookie, and an order of the pastry basket assures you of one. The fact that there is only one piece is a bit of a disappointment, as the word “basket” suggests a bounty of treats, but there’s only one cookie, one financier and one croissant. They were all very good, but more would have been better.

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squash spaghetti a la carbonara
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papa poule’s chicken caesar salad

They don’t skimp on the entrees, thankfully. The squash spaghetti “a la carbonara” lived up to its promise as being hearty and filling. Don’t be fooled by the healthy headlines of gluten free and squash on the menu, at the end of the day, pasta swirling in melted cheese and runny yolk is rich and tastes glorious. The papa poule’s chicken caesar also came armed with some meat and some heft. The generous slices of chicken and avocado ensured that you wouldn’t go hungry, and its tangy, yellow take on the traditional caesar dressing was much more interesting than the typical white variety. Like a good mother, Maman is keeping her children, and her grandchildren, very well fed.

Maman Tribeca
211 W. Broadway (between Franklin and White St)
New York, NY 10013
(646) 882-8682

French Spanish Tapas at Cocotte

Cocotte is one of those restaurants that’s easy to miss. You could probably walk up and down Thompson St a thousand times and never know this place existed. Part of the reason why is that Cocotte is located below ground, so the signage isn’t really all that visible at eye level. But those who look carefully will discover a little bit of Paris in Soho. The space is small and stylish, with dark mood lighting, that makes it perfect for date night or for those looking for a good atmosphere. Drink up, because the menu of small plates, which are Basque in origin, will complement those glasses of wine very well.

welcome to cocotte
welcome to cocotte

The Basque influences are interesting, and you can really taste both the French and Spanish flavors in the food. The foie gras, for instance, isn’t the typical block of duck or goose liver served straight up with a side of bread. The version at Cocotte has strips of leeks and peppers interspersed for a little more spice and vivacity. There are the more traditional dishes for those hard core Francophiles. The thick butternut squash soup had loads of heavy cream which was unmistakably French, and the usual suspects of hanger steak and duck confit were on the menu.

leeks and foie gras terrine
leeks and foie gras terrine with piquillo peppers
butternut squash soup
butternut squash soup

I didn’t want cream and fat to rule the dinner completely, so I ordered the grilled dorade and the side of lentils to keep things light. The dorade filet was pretty solid, the skin perhaps could have been crisper, but the fish itself was salted and seasoned properly. Lentils are normally earthy and hearty, but the ones on this plate were dressed in a vinaigrette that lightened up these characteristics, although not without some bacon bits, but only enough to enjoy yourself and not to feel bad.

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dorade with market vegetables
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french green lentils with crunchy bacon
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lemon tart

For dessert, we shared a lemon tart, which was as sweet and tart as you’d expect a glass of lemonade to be. You know what was surprisingly not tart? The service. This is one thing that wasn’t very French about Cocotte, the fact that the waitstaff was so friendly and genuinely wanted to see if we were enjoying the food. It’s like all the perks of Paris and none of the downside. So if you’re ever in Soho, take a moment to look around carefully, walk down those steps, and enjoy yourself with some good food and good company.

110 Thompson St (between Prince and Spring St)
New York, NY 10012
(212) 965-9100